Breakfast Smoothie

I’ve been absent from my blog for about a week and a half but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten my goals to live an active and healthy lifestyle.

Family and school have been keeping me busy but I’m still finding time to exercise and eat healthy. I’m still riding my bike to school and around town. And I’ve been finding new way to incorporate fruits and veggies into my meals.

I was watching an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown and I was inspired by the show that was all about how he lost weight by eating healthy. His morning smoothie sounded so good that I decided to make my own.

I bought some frozen fruits from Sam’s Club. The first bag is a mix of peaches, pineapple, mango and strawberries The second bag is a mix of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Equal parts of each put into the blender with a half cup of skim milk, a tblspn of fat free greek yogurt and a few squirts of natural Hawaiian Honey.

It is a delicious and nutritious breakfast full of vitamins and antioxidants and probably a lot of other healthy stuff. That has been my breakfast for two days in a row.

For lunch yesterday I had my favorite Spicy Garlic Veggies at school and when I came home I made a salad of mixed greens with sliced apples, baked chicken and papaya seed dressing.

I’ve been hiking on my days off, bicycling everyday and last night I went for a one hour walk/jog along the Ala Wai canal which took me an entire hour to complete.

Portabello Mushrooms! Why did it take me so long to discover these tasty little devils. I bought a pack of 8 big caps and today for lunch I sliced up two of them, sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper. OMG it was like eating a Ribeye steak. Those things are so good!

Needless to say I am experiencing a resurgence of energy and motivation.


Day 39: Back to School

Today was my first day back to school. Let the weight loss begin!

For breakfast this morning I had a bowl of oatmeal and a mandarin orange. I took my son to school and my daughter to her Auntie’s house before making the one mile bike ride up to the UH Manoa campus.

Every Tuesday and Thursday I have back to back Religion classes. After class I walked through the Sustainability Courtyard on campus to see if the vegetarian restaurant had spicy garlic veggies but they didn’t. I decided to try the sauteed teriyaki sesame vegetables instead. They were good, but not great.

It was a one mile bike ride back home. I picked up my daughter first and we walked the last few blocks from her Auntie’s house on Lime St. to our Kalakaua Ave apartment. We had a nice, quiet, relaxing two hours together before Mom came home and before it was time to pick up my son from school.

At 4:30 this afternoon/evening I had a quick dinner. My usual turkey sandwich on wheat bread with some mixed greens. The plate looked kind of empty and I thought about adding some chips (yes I still have chips in the house) but I didn’t.

My last class of the day is Spanish 102. Part II of a IV part language requirement that I need to graduate with my bachelors degree. My Spanish class is at a different campus, Kapiolani Community College which is a two mile bike ride and what used to be a quarter mile bike push up a pretty steep incline.

I left the house at five and reached Kapiolani or KCC as it is known at about 5:30. I made the effort to actually bicycle up the incline that I usually end up walking and made it about half way before giving up. Class was good. The professor, Fernand Cortiguera is a really fun guy. He’s half Spanish and half French and grew up in Africa, Kenya I think.

After class (eight o’clock at night) I bicycled the two miles back home. It was dark and the roads were wet from some passing showers but I was prepared with my helmet and flashing lights. When I got home I was hungry, really hungry. Two mandarin oranges later and my hunger has subsided, for now.

It was a good day today. I bicycled six miles and ate pretty healthy. No other exercises going on right now. My ass, I mean gluts, are sore. It was the body weight squats and lunges from yesterdays attempt at the Dynamic Warm Up on Nerd Fitness. Well now that I think about it, I could do a quick home workout for my upper body tonight. Some curls and shoulder rolls, upright rows and close grip shoulder press. Yeah I can do that!

Day 36: Climbing Stairs, Skipping Steps

I decided to climb the stairs today but with a little twist, skipping steps. So instead of the usual 134 steps to the top of the stairwell, I reached the top in only 66 steps. I could really feel the difference, not in my legs but in my chest. My heart was beating so hard and so fast that I had to take a short breather every two flights. After four trips up and down, I calculated that I had climbed 536 stairs in only 264 steps. In keeping with my desire to do a little more than before, I added a fifth trip to the the top. I was tired and sweaty and I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest but I managed to make it up one last time. It’s a great feeling when you realize that your body is capable of doing so much more than your brain believes is possible.

For breakfast this morning I had a bowl of oatmeal (100 calories). And for lunch I’m making myself a turkey sandwich with spinach and some dijon mustard on a whole wheat roll. Eating healthy is a lot easier when you have good foods in the house to keep you on track. I’m defrosting some chicken breasts and plan on making a nice salad for dinner.

I haven’t been focused so much on counting calories like before. Instead I’m just trying to stay focused on eating healthy, keeping my portions small and incorporating more vegetables and fruits into my meals.

As for exercise, I try to do something everyday whether it’s walking, riding my bike, climbing stairs or playing on the Wii. I just wish I had somebody to exercise with. I feel like putting up an ad on Craigslist for an exercise buddy. Sometimes I see guys running who are really fit and I want to ask if I can work out with them sometime.

Well for now, I’ll keep going it alone.

Day 32: Alternative Exercises

I don’t mean to brag, but I had sex last night. Actually it was about three o’clock this morning. It was one of those woke up horny in the middle of the night feelings that compelled me to bother my wife for some lovin. A half hour later I was taking a shower and thought to myself, hey that was a pretty good work out.

It got me thinking. What other kind of activities can I do to burn calories that I usually wouldn’t think of as exercise.  When I think of the word exercise I tend to think of it as work. Something I have to do but don’t always want to.

Cold Showers: This sounds like something to do when you’re not getting any sex but I’ve read that it’s a good calorie burner. Since your body is constantly trying to keep it’s temperature at 97 degrees, it has to work extra hard to do this when you’re cold. A thirty minute cold shower can potentially burn up to 500 calories, or so I’ve read.

Drink Cold Water: It’s the same idea as cold showers.

Fidgeting: I’m not a fidgeter, in fact I’m pretty good at playing dead but I’ve read that people who fidget whether it’s shaking their leg or tapping their fingers burn more calories than those who don’t. On my flight home from Seattle the girl sitting next to me was very skinny and she kept shaking her leg through the entire flight, Six Hours!

Sleep: The more you sleep, the more calories you burn. That’s no problem for me. I always get a full eight hours of sleep and sometimes take an hour nap in the afternoons. I’ve read that you burn 50% more calories when you’re sleep than when you’re awake.

A skinnier me with my son James (six years ago)

Playing with kids: Children are little balls of energy and can almost always run an adult ragged without even trying. My kids are no exception. I try to take them to the park or the beach every other day for an hour long play session. Keeping up with the kids is not only good exercise but good fun.

James and Julie at Kailua Beach Park

What else can you do to burn calories? My wife likes to drink green tea and I’ve read that it can help. Gum chewing? I’m not a gum chewer but it sounds like the same thing as fidgeting.

Please share if you can think of any other calorie burning activities.

Day 31: Wii Sports – Real Stairs – Night Walks

This morning I ate a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (130 calories) and drank a cup of skim milk (90 calories).

I walked with my kids to our neighborhood Game Stop at Ala Moana and picked up the Wii Sports. My son and I took turns playing Golf, Baseball, Boxing, Tennis and Bowling. My favorite is the Golf and my son likes to play the Baseball. But it’s the Boxing that gives you the best workout. I could really feel it in my arms after going a few rounds.

For lunch today I had a Turkey Sandwich on Wheat Toast (300 calories) and a bag of Sun Chips (150 calories).

At about 2:00 this afternoon I decided to hit the stairs. I climbed up and down four times. 134 steps UP x 4 = 536 steps + 134 steps DOWN x 4 = a total of 1072 steps. It only takes about twenty minutes but it’s a good work out.

Tonight for dinner I made some chicken nachos that consisted of tortilla chips topped with pepper jack cheese and shredded chicken. I’m trying to watch what I eat but I’m not going to starve myself like before. I will eat when I’m hungry but will try to keep it healthy and watch my portion sizes.

Tonight I walked around Lunalilo Elementary School for an hour. I lost track of the number of laps but it was at least eight laps/two miles of walking. I just didn’t feel like running or jogging tonight but I’m sure to be picking up the pace in the next few days.

My chest, arms and shoulders are still sore from my weight lifting the other night. It’s great to be back and I’m happy to be moving forward in my weight loss goals.

Thanks to everyone for your comments of advice and encouragement.

Day 12/13: Airports and Emergency Rooms

Last night I spent four hours in the emergency room at Queens Medical Center. Most of that time was spent in the waiting room while only the last hour was in the presence of doctors and nurses.

I was at school taking one of my final exams when my phone began ringing. Everyone turned and gave that same annoyed look that I’ve given others when their phone rings during a test. I quickly silenced the phone and then checked to see who it was. Why would my wife call me when she knows I’m taking a final?

I retreated to the hallway and called her back. The line was busy. I tried again and it was still busy. I waited a few seconds and tried again. It went strait to her voicemail. I must have called a half dozen more times before she finally answered. She was screaming in pain and said she couldn’t breathe.

“I think I’m having a heart attack.”

“Hang up and call 911!” I told her.

I packed my school bag in a haste, gave my half finished final exam to my professor. “I have an emergency, I’ll see you next semester.” I said. That means I wouldn’t be passing this class and would need yet another N or Incomplete, another chance at understanding deductive logic.

I’ve never pedaled so hard and so fast in my life. A million thoughts were going through my head as I bicycled through traffic, weaving in between cars and cautiously running as many red lights as I could without almost becoming roadkill. I tried to call my wife’s phone but there was no answer.

I called 911. “Police, Fire or Ambulance?” Ambulance! They asked for my location. I quickly explained that I was calling to see where my wife was being taken. The dispatch asked for the address. When I told them, they said the ambulance was still on scene. “I’m on my way.” I hung up the phone and began pedaling harder.

When I got to my street I could see the red lights flashing in the distance. My children were standing in front of our building with their Auntie who was lovingly nicknamed “Yaya” by my son when he was only two. I looked through the back window of the ambulance and saw my wife laying down, wearing an oxygen mask.

“Mommy is sick,” my son said.

The side door of the ambulance opened and a medic stuck his head out. “James, she’s doing okay. We’re going to Queens. Do you want to ride with us?” I stuck my head inside to see her and hold her hand.

“I’ll get the car and meet you there,” I said.

As the ambulance drove away I turned to my kids who looked sad and scared. I assured them that Mommy would be okay. They walked down the street with Yaya as I went up to the apartment to put away my bicycle. I changed my sweaty bicycling shirt to a nice, dry t shirt and went down to the garage to get the car. I have a suspended license but I didn’t care.

When I got to the emergency room at Queens, my wife was in the waiting room, sitting in a wheelchair. Her eyes were bloodshot, a blanket covered her lap and she gripped a small box of tissue. Her father Benito was sitting next to her but stood up and gave me his seat when he saw me.

I sat down with her and she began telling me her story. She was watching the five o’clock news, eating some of the pomelo that I had picked for her last week when all of a sudden she felt an extreme pain in her chest, her abdomen and her back. She said it felt like a sandwich, the pressure was coming from all sides. First she called Yaya, then her father, then me. The last number she called was 911. I told that if anything like this ever happens again, call 911 first!

We waited for about two hours before our turn finally came around. We filled out the necessary forms, got her fitted for a wristband and she gave some blood. I tried to break through the seriousness of the situation by making a few jokes and eventually I got her to smile and even laugh.

Once in an actual room, nurses began attending to her, giving her an EKG and a chest xray. Later the doctor came in and said everything looked fine. There was no heart attack. We were happy to hear that but then what was it? Gas? I’ve never heard of gas that severe. Was this just a medical mystery which would never be answered? Apparently so.

On the ride home we began talking. “This is a second chance,” she told me. “I want to make a change, I want to live long and be around for my kids.” We talked about exercising and eating healthy and making changes in our life for ourselves and for our children. We talked about the health of our parents and when we put it all together, it was a lot.

Her mother had a stroke, a brain aneurism and can no longer walk or talk or do anything. She has been bedridden for twelve years. Her grandfather and uncle both had fatal heart attacks in their 50’s. My wife has high blood pressure and takes medication to control it. Her mother had high blood pressure also but never took her medicine.

Obesity runs in my family. My mom had a gastric bypass nearly ten years ago which helped her lose over 200 pounds. My mom still has diabetes and sleep apnea. Both of my grandparents on my fathers side died of heart attacks. My uncle died of leukemia when he was twenty three. My oldest brother had two strokes a few years back and is now unable to walk or talk and he’s not even forty.  As for me, I have no health problems that I know of but it’s been years since I’ve seen a doctor.

So my wife and I have a new reason to get healthy and it’s not just to look good in our clothes. It’s to live a long life and to see our children grow up.

And now to the Airport aspect of this blog. I’m boarding a plane tonight to visit my father in Seattle. His health is not so good and I haven’t seen him in over ten years. I’ll be gone for a week and am not sure how much I’ll be able to blog or whether I’ll be able to blog at all.

But I will be back.

Day 10 – Tomato Parmesan, and Merry Christmas!

It’s been a long day of studying and test taking. I had lunch on campus. It was a vegetarian Tomato Basil Parmesan with Eggplant. It was alright but definitely not my favorite. I don’t think I would ever order it again. I did a few miles of bike riding but that’s about it.

I walked with the kids to Ala Moana so they could have their picture taken with Santa. The photo didn’t come out too good. It never does. When I take their picture with my camera they always smile and the photos look wonderful. But their Santa photo always look terrible and I regret paying $35 for a package of “deer in the headlight” photos.

Oh well. Here is one of those great photos of the kids at home in front of the Christmas tree.

Day 9 – Part II: Honolulu Marathon

Today was the 39th annual Honolulu Marathon, a 26.2 mile race from Ala Moana through Waikiki to Hawaii Kai and back towards Waikiki ending at Kapiolani Park. 22,615 people registered to run in the Marathon this year.

I can’t imagine running 26 miles, bicycling maybe but definitely not running. Although I hope that this time next year I’ll be in good enough shape to even consider participating in such a race.

The winner of the marathon was defending champion Nicholas Chelimo of Kenya who finished in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 55 seconds. I just want to say congratulations to everybody who participated in the Marathon but watch out cause I’m on my way.


Day 9: Back on Track

I want to thank everyone for their comments of encouragement and helpful advice. Today is the ninth day of my weight loss blog and I feel that I’ve regained my energy and positive state of mind. My leg muscles have had time to heal after the day of hiking and bicycling.

This morning for breakfast I had two slices of wheat toast with a little bit of butter and topped it with a few slices of pepper jack cheese and two eggs fried sunny side up. That was about 8AM. It was nice to have a satisfying meal that didn’t leave me wanting. So I took my new found energy to the stairwell and climbed up and down four times, 536 steps up and 536 steps down.

After the stairs I sat down at my desk and spent a few hours studying for next weeks finals. Hunger began to kick in around noon so I went to the kitchen in search of something to eat. The word “Protein” has been bouncing around my head since Gatekepa of Nerd Fitness mentioned it in his comment the other day.

I had some eggs and dairy for breakfast. What protein could I have for lunch? Peanut Butter. I forgot I even had this old jar of peanut butter. I check the expiration date (2013) and made myself a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich for lunch. It was delicious and most of all, satisfying.

After lunch I studied for another hour and then decided to do some of my weight lifting routines. I did my usual 3 “SETS” of 20 “REPS” of Curls and 3 “SETS” of 15 “REPS” of “Upright Rows” followed by 3 “SETS” of 10 “REPS” of a “Close Grip Shoulder Press” Thanks Gatekepa for help with all the proper terminology.

I’m feeling good today. I’ve got some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the fridge which I plan to grill for dinner. The chicken might possibly find it’s way into a vegetable stir fry or maybe just a grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato. And if the weather permits I’ll be doing a few laps around the old elementary school tonight.

Day 8: Where is my motivation?

Is it possible that I’ve already run out of steam? Suddenly I have no desire to exercise and I see no reason to watch my calorie intake. Today was a lazy day, just like yesterday. I sat around the house watching television, playing on the computer and eating. I’m not really eating bad foods but they’re not good foods either.

Yesterday I cooked two quesadillas with chicken and pepper jack cheese. Today I had two Eggo waffles with butter and syrup, a corn dog that I baked in the oven and snacked on those grab bags of chips that usually go into my kids lunch boxes. I woke up at 2 am to use the bathroom and then found myself standing in the kitchen eating a cookie with my eyes closed.

This morning I had two slices of wheat toast and two eggs fried over easy. Maybe I’m just making up for all the food I haven’t been eating this week. Perhaps I should stop trying to eat less and just try to eat more foods that are healthy. I think I over did it this week, especially day 6 with the intense exercise and just wasn’t getting enough fuel to feed the fire.

Today I diced up a can of Spam and sauteed it in a frying pan with cayenne pepper. Then I made a plate of nachos with tortilla chips, pepper jack cheese, the seasoned Spam and baked them in the oven. Spam Nachos!? It sounds like something a stoner or a pregnant lady would eat.

It’s been raining a lot over the past two days so I haven’t been able to go walk, run or bicycle. It sounds like a great reason but it’s actually just a lousy excuse. I still have my weights in the bathroom and the stairs aren’t going anywhere. I need to get my motivation and determination back!